After living a whopping twenty-something years, I think I might have found a counter-intuitive model for overcoming general anxiety and even getting on the right track to success. This theory already has some traction if you really look for it, but I have yet to find a methodology and explanation that fits for me, so while my ideas might not work for everyone, I'll try to explain myself as best as I can. The stuff I'll try to cover in this article include:
- Nihilism's useful definition: SSG.
- Actually applying nihilism to real life.
- Some unnecessary theorizing.
Why not start with the definition of nihilism, according to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
"Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence."
Now this definition seems pretty dark doesn't it. Someone who already has anxiety and is actively looking for positivity or treatment likely does not want to be associated with crippling pessimism.
The problem I have with this definition is the irony, I mean, look at it, by being pessimistic and overly skeptical, you are likely giving the very thing you're against, or everything, even more meaning than someone who isn't a nihilist. It's like complaining to a friend of yours who just threw something in the trash, that it's unnecessary because everything will go to trash one day. By the time you finish, he'll have thrown the trash, likely forgotten about it, and stopped caring - you know, the thing you're supposed to be doing. Another interesting example is that, the act of identifying as a nihilist is in and of itself, not nihilistic. The simple act of identifying and believing in the ideology shows that you do in fact, care.
SSG or "Selective Shits Given"
This is why I would like to explain my own little definition of nihilism, which basically amounts to selective shits given or SSG. While this isn't anything new often called selective caring or selective apathy, SSG seems like a better title. Selectively giving a shit basically takes the best parts of both being and not being a nihilist. The main reason I want to separate SSG with the other two titles is that they often go hard in each direction. My idea takes nihilism, and applies it to the things you should actually care about in a way that reduces personal stress and increases productivity. Great, now buy my self help DVDs to find out the secret.
Just joking, I'll tell ya, eventually. Anyway, I think most people already use something very similar to SSG. I'm going to tell a personal little story. I consider myself to have some insecurities and I usually care about what others think of me. I see this as a weakness, and it has made me miss opportunities before. What makes it even worse, is that it's not even consistent. I was sitting on the bus going to class where I had a pretty serious exam. As you may have guessed, I was anxious, and while thinking about class and how I was going to perform, I put my legs up on another bus seat, stared into space, and scratched my head/fiddled with stuff. When I became aware of what I was doing, I worried people thought I was weird, and started behaving like a good busgoer again. This story is SSG in its worst form, giving a shit about the exact things you shouldn't, selectively. In the end I realized that I had the capacity to stop worrying because I literally do it all the time, the problem being that it was only to worry about other stuff. The positive SSG I'm talking about is taking the same principles that cause us to flip through worries and instead finding the core of the anxiety, and dealing with it by allocating all the shits there toward non-inhibitive thoughts and goals. With SSG, you could also give percentages of a shit, making it very flexible.
Now I understand that last statement there sounded like a joke, giving a quarter of a shit about your job looks like a funny from the newspaper. But what if I told you that it may actually be extremely helpful in the application of the entire ideology/system/whatever to your daily life. You see, SSG is not just some abstract idea, it should also include a default methodology that is follow-able, or more importantly, default-able to. It is important to be able to default to something in the case of overwhelming anxiety or a relapse.
Actually applying SSG and Nihilism
This is the hard part, as a nihilist with stage fright isn't a nihilist. There are a lot of ways to push yourself toward the perfect balance of allocated shits to give, from punching yourself to constantly catching your thoughts and drowning them out with mental curse words.
The three best methods I've found are:
- Nihilistic Disestablishment.
- Making and thinking about SSG percent allocations.
- Focusing on Breathing.
Lets take the stage fright example and work through it with SSG. So the first part would be the physical act of signing up or volunteering to go up on the stage. If you find yourself actively not wanting to, you probably want to. It's at this point where you should breath in, hold it a bit, then breath out. While continuing this, start to allocate importance across the entire event and find out why you really want to get up on stage. If it is for singing, you're probably afraid of how people will perceive you or your voice. In that case it's simple, tell yourself there is 95% shits in getting recognized by a talent agent and the other 5% in stroking your own ego. If visualizing your shits given percentages makes you giggle, it's working. After this, you can try nihilistic disestablishment or ND. ND is basically telling yourself that it does not matter, even in the worst case scenario. Your brain might try to throw you some heavy worst cases but in the end, it'll probably be either you choking, or missing a note, it doesn't matter. It's like giving yourself confidence by breaking down the concept that you need confidence. Just allocate all your shits to the positive aspect of the performance that might bring you real success.
This seems rather simple though, can breathing and telling yourself some stuff in your head really help you in overcoming anxiety, which millions of people have?
At first, probably not. When I first started thinking about this theory and trying to apply it, I actually choked pretty hard on several occasions. I went to an interview completely unprepared because I told myself it didn't matter and that I'd probably just charisma my way through with my newfound SSG swag. Nope, I choked, I could barely answer questions and stuttered, oh it was terrible. But I did it, and I learned something, and I never stopped SSGing all the way through.
Maybe start small, with the simplest forms of anxiety. The idea is kinda just to overload your head with other stuff that naturally redirects negative thoughts to be broken down. By making yourself think about breathing and shit percentage graphs and existentialism, your not thinking about the anxiety during its worse moments. If you find yourself back to anxiety, the three steps should be auto linked and it should be easy to start breaking it down again.
As you spend more time going through ordeals that make you anxious using the SSG system, their general effect on you will also dwindle. For example, 92% of your time right now in drama class is spent in anxiety. While actively trying to use SSG, it'll go to 80%, then 79%, then 34%, maybe an occasional spike to 87% again, until you hit the sub 10%'s and you won't even need SSG for drama class anymore. Thinking about it as a goal in and of itself alongside actual goals(impress talent agent) and attaching real numbers such as those above or SG percentages really helps in breaking down not only anxiety but fear of failure and other insecurities.
Interesting stuff maybe
One of the reasons I believe this fairly simplistic system can work, is because I believe persistent personality traits exist as neuron clusters or some sort of data clusters in the brain that get called when similar experiences happen as when the data cluster was originally created in infant-hood or early childhood. Maybe when one was a baby, their parents played peakaboo a few too many times and created a dependency complex or aversion to independence. Just like with the car example from my other post, when you are young and get passed by a fast car, your brain might create a cluster that activates certain fight or flight hormones when a similar experience happens. The thing is, babies might not know what a car is, or they may go on to connect many structures and even concepts to cars, which will all activate that cluster when encountered or thought about. Since these responses were originally written in, they can be written out, it just takes lots of time and a constant onslaught on your own brain.
We getting there